SUB COMMITTEE UPDATE: Workforce Committee
Greater North Dakota Chamber is in the process of developing our policy positions for the upcoming legislative session. This is done through the efforts of roughly 60 volunteers from GNDC member companies focusing on three core areas that impact the business community: Business Climate, Workforce, and Infrastructure. These volunteers have invested their time over the last several months to meet with elected and appointed state officials and other subject matter experts on a variety of issues that impact businesses in our state.
The Workforce Committee began it’s work by hearing from Job Service North Dakota. Pat Bertanolli, Executive Director, and Phil Davis, Workforce Services Director, gave us an overview of the state workforce environment reporting an unemployment rate of 3.1% with 4,800 individuals on unemployment and approximately 20,000 job openings. The medical industry had the largest number of openings.
Katie Ralston Howe, Workforce Division Director for the North Dakota Department of Commerce sat down with us to discuss the Workforce Development Council and the recommendations developed. She also provided information on “Find the Good Life 2.0” which is a state led effort to attract workforce to North Dakota.
We learned about programs available for people re-entering the workforce after incarceration from Dave Krabbenhoft, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Director. There are approximately 1,500 people released from prison each year. Of the individuals released in 2018, there was a recidivism rate of approximately 40%. Meaningful employment helps reduce recidivism, especially when the individuals have access to wrap around services such as housing, transportation, medical care, and counseling.
Chris Jones, Director of the Department of Human Services, and Kay Larson, Early Childhood Division Director, discussed childcare availability and potential solutions to removing childcare as a barrier to workforce. Kristin Knorr, ND Afterschool Network Lead, provided information on childcare for grade school children. For every youth in a program, there are two more children that would participate if space was available.
Wayde Sick, Director of ND Department of Career and Technical Education, provided an overview of the resources the department has developed, including the new program “RU Ready” which will help employers participate in the student journey to a career.
Understanding where we are is key to developing an advocacy strategy for where we want to go. We would like to sincerely thank the volunteers that continue to share their time and insights with us as we go through this process. GNDC is here to advocate for our members. To do that effectively, we need to hear about the issues that are important to you.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: Business Climate Sub-committee